When browsing a collection of really cool digital images, it can be easy to claim ignorance of the important role metadata plays in navigating a digital collection. To be honest, not many folks show a real passion for understanding and exploring why metadata matters so much. But, it truly is a very important part of any digital collection and I'd like to focus on one aspect of why it plays such an important role. In the recent workshop we held at UNLV, one question came up repeatedly, "Okay, so metadata is important. Well, what exactly is good metadata and what can good metadata do for me?" I have located a great article (mentioned in the workshop) that addresses this subject. Moving Towards Shareable Metadata
concisely describes not only the importance of metadata, but some practical ways to create shareable metadata. As defined in the article, sharebale metadata is defined as
Metadata which can be understood and used outside of its local environment by aggregators to provide more advanced services.
In the collections we are currently working on, we use the Dublin Core metadata standard and include fields that refer to both the item itself and the physical collection it comes from. We also have built-in layers of quality control that help check for consistency and even levels of granularity between records. By conforming to recognized standards, including information that provides context outside the local environment, and by striving for consistency UNLV LIbraries is contributing shareable metadata and contributing to interoperabilty between diverse digital collections.